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tv   Tavis Smiley  WHUT  January 14, 2010 10:00pm-10:30pm EST

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, our conversation with one of baseball's most popular and successful figures, joe torre. following up for world championships with the new york yankees, he is seeking to bring that to the los angeles dodgers. he continues his work off the field to combat domestic violence. the joe torre safe at home foundation was established in response to his own experiences as a child. it we're glad to have joined us. at our conversation with joe torre coming up right now. >> there are so many things that walmart is looking forward to
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doing, like helping people live better. but mostly, we're helping build stronger communities and relationships. because with your help, the best is yet to come. >> nationwide insurance proudly supports "tavis smiley." tavis and nationwide, working to improve financial literacy and the economic empowerment that comes with it. >> ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪ >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: were pleased to welcome joe torre to this program. following his own all-star
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career, he has gone on to be one of the most successful managers in the game, including four world series titles with the new york yankees. off the field, he continues to make an impact of a different kind through the joe torre save it home foundation. it raises awareness about domestic violencend prevention. earlier today, they announced their expansion on the west coast with an office in the city of angels. joe torre, an honor to have you on the program. >> nice seeing you. i have been a big fan. tavis: it is nice to see you out of uniform. >> yeah, although lately this has been the uniform. i have been making appearances because we are moving the foundation west. we're not deserting the east, but we feel that our issue was so important that as long as i am not here living, we should
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have our foundation be here also. tavis: given that you have been wearing this uniform of light, how are you spending the off season? >> it has been busy. moving to say that home foundation here, we have made a couple of trips back east. my daughter who is 14, she still has the pull of her friends back in new york. we went back for our annual dinner back there, but mainly in his day-to-day stuff. she is 14, so we plant -- we stay pretty close to home. tavis: for the dodgers fans, we know there is of people in the front office. how does that impact you? there is a certain proximity you have because you are manager, but how do you navigate that? >> that is more for our general manager because he has to deal with the owner.
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he is the one who really controls the purse strings of what the ball club can spend and things like that. it certainly has -- you cannot ignore what is going on. hopefully it does not affect us, but when you win the division one year and the second year, the expectations are high and you have a lot to live up to. i think it remains to be seen how it will affect our 2010 club. tavis: obviously your confident guy, but did you surprise yourself with how fast you turn this around in l.a.? >> the fit year we were here, 2008, had just come off knee replacement, so i really did not have the strength. i said what am i doing this for after 12 years in new york? even though i was ready to leave new york, no second thoughts,
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but if it was not the dodgers, i doubt i would have said yes to any other offer. the first half of the 2008 season was trough. it was tough because we had trouble getting the message, trouble getting the players to trust what we were doing. we made a couple of deals through the season, don mattingly came on board, and then manning came on board and the players got excited and we accomplish something in 2008 nobody expected, winning the division and beating the cubs. in 2009, the expectations were higher and we were able to live up to it by having the best record in the national league and beating a good cardinal club. i think i was a little surprise, especially with the first half of the first year. tavis: a question about life, you said a moment ago you had no
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qualms and you were clear it was time to leave new york. when you have been it somewhere so long, a relationship, city, whatever it might be, how did you know? how do you know when it is absolutely time to move from this place? >> when the message was mixed. the ownership, we went over there and we had won four world series the first five years i was there. the last one was in 2003. we started hearing that even if we got to postseason play and won the division, that was not enough. that was a tough message for me to deliver to the players, maybe we had won the most games the league and to characterize it as a failure. i think eventually it got to me. maybe it was my age, maybe i was at the dance too long. i think i was maybe there a year
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too long because the last two, three years were difficult and i felt the stress. there is always pressure in what you do, new york is ratcheted up good, but the stress the last few years, i just felt even when we did well, i was not happy. it i just felt it was time to leave. i think they felt it was time to leave. i am not sure they knew how to form the separation, and when we split, it certainly was uncomfortable and i was just happy to be able to go west, where i really was not in the vicinity when the new season started and i was busy doing something else. tavis: you mentioned that when you first got her you just had knee surgery. we also know that earlier in your life you battled prostate cancer and you have recovered
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and have done well, i assume. but after both of those surgery's, knee surgery and prostate, you were back quickly. what is it about your constitution that will let you sit down after major surgery? >> the thing about it, tavis, especially with the cancer, when you hear that word, it is a dark hole that you figure it is death and you associate death with cancer. if you get a little more information and you realize that is not necessarily the case. i realized that the time i had on my hands, my mind was not working right. you start conjuring up thoughts about this hurts, that hurts. i felt the best way to combat that was to stay busy. again, when i had cancer, it was 1999, we had just won more games than any other team in the postseason, 114 games, 125 games
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overall. the 1999 season, it started in spring training. i remember when i got diagnosed, my wife said, at if you had not retired last year, you would not have known this. at the time, i was wishing that was the case. then i was going to be completely open to what was wrong with me because i am still working and i am still part of the yankees. when i told everybody what i was diagnosed with, the feedback i have had from people who did not want to talk about it, who were afraid to get checked, i thought it was important for me to show people that you could live a normal life. once the doctors convinced me i could go back to worked, as long as maybe i changed my diet and continue to exercise, that i could live a normal life.
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as it turned out, knock wood, that was the case and i continue to do that. i think it is important for men, obviously, it is a subject they don't want to talk about based on the fact that it has something to do with your libido and is very peonal in regard, but you can live a very normal and productive life. tavis: you are right, a lot of guys think they are not suppose to talk about prostate cancer. you were very open about that. if you are not supposed to talk about that, you definitely are not supposed to talk about domestic violence, and here you are. >> it was interesting, tavis, i did not know why i had this low self-esteem. i was very fortunate, i grew up in a mom -- i grew up in a home where my dad beat my mom but he
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never touched me. the fear was worse because i was a very nervous child. i skipped school, i would listen to my dad yelling. he would throw things against the wall. i was 8, 9 years old when my older sister was protecting my mom with a knife in the dining room, and my dad who was a detective opened the drawer and said put the knife down and he got the revolvers. i was 8 years old and i took the knife at of my sister's hand and put it on the table and said, there, and everything went blank after that. there was a lot of nervousness, but never shared with my friends. all i knew is when my dad came home from work, i would leave and go to a friend's house. fast forward, 1995, my wife is pregnant with my child, and she had a seminar to go to.
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she said you want to go? it was about life success, self- help. i had no idea what it was. when your wife is eight months egnant, you say, yes, i am going. we went over there and i found myself after three days, four days, after three days of standing in front of perfect strangers, cryinmy eyes out, realizing that all these emotions i have felt, all the fear, all the low self-esteem, and started connecting the dots. it was the fear that i grew up with. i go home, i go back to my house and i told my older sister, did dad do this, did dad do that, to sort of a firm that -- to sort of a firm that. even my siblings, because they are older than i am, they try to protect me from it. there were a lot of feelings that i felt i was at fault. tavis: you are more an expert on
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this than i am because is what you off the field, there are all kinds of people in prison today who saw the same things you saw and they took on the behavior of the father, that man in the house, whoever it might be, the boyfriend, took on the behavior as they became adults. how did that not happen for you, and how has that impact your being a father? >> i was certainly aware of it. once i connected the dots, neither one of my brothers were abusive to their spouses. i just had more of a sensitivity i think because i was really not involved in the day-to-day of the abuse in the house. i am 8 1/2 years younger than my next oldest and i was sort of protected, so they thought, but
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meanwhile i had this feeling about it. how i did not affected by it, or maybe being affected in this way where i was more sensitive to it, i don't know. but you are right, there are so many young men who feel it is ok to do this. you look at chris brown, what he went through, and then you start talking about it and you realize he was in an abusive situation. again, it is not an excuse, but you sort of have to understand that certain feelings come from someplace. i know what we tried to do with our safe rooms in school tried to geared towards education as opposed to being care providers. tavis: prevention. >> we want to educate and have the youngsters understand the respect associated with, the respect with each other and to understand that what you are doing is not the right thing.
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deal with this when we have these safe rooms. they are a little hesitant, but once they go when they realize fault what is going on in their homes, and they have their friends to talk about it with, they have a counselor. we had one youngster, he was going to go into a street gang. he went in a third time, the next thing you know he is looking at college. we have had some great stories that have come out of this. we know is a very successful program. right now we are in new york, we have a 11 schools in brooklyn and queens. now we're hoping to open to schools this fall in the l.a. area. -- now we're hoping to open two schools this fall in the l.a.
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area. margaret was my mom's name. if she was with us today, she certainly would not be sitting still wanting to do this because she would ever share it with anybody. she thought it was the family's business. my mom, she wanted to be a teacher. i don't think she ever finished grade school. but she just loved school, but she had to quit. her children were her life. i don't think she ever want to a movie or went on vacation or anything. it was just for children. she was there for them all the time. i did not want what my mom did for me or my brothers and sisters to just leave it there. i just felt she continued to help youngsters, and that is why we named the safe rooms after my mom. we were going to open a shelter, then wife made a suggestion, what about education? because if you are going to stop this, if you try to end the
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cycle, you have to help youngsters understand. tavis: you mentioned chris brown. there are two is i want to raise about this. the first may be politically incorrect. i never talked about chris brown thing on this program, but i watched all the coverage. i want to get your take, how the media did with that situation. the first thing, it troubled me, coach, during the process, because everybody in the media seemed to jump on chris brown. but maybe clear, domestic violence is wrong. a cannot bcondoned. chris cannot use whatappened to him as a child as an excuse. in all of these conversatio i saw, everybody kept saying, young man, you never touch a girl. a they're absolutely right. but i never heard the other
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side, which is, young lady, you never put your hand on a guy. everybody seems to think that a guy can never hit a girl under any circumstance, you don't hit him back. that makes sense. i agree, but i think that message has to be on both sides. does that make sense? >> it does. definitely, we keep saying the male, but there are many instances where the mother is the abuser to the child also. unfounately, when you are the man, you note with the influence is on your life. that is probably why i use the male, but i certainly understand it is a two-way street. the abuse, not only physical, but emotional abuse. there is this control which can be exhibited by either sex. tavis: the other question i
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wanted to ask about chris brown, how do you think the media did? it was a sensational story, the story still has legs, but your assessment? your assessment of how we in the media did talking abt this? >> well, i think the media has a tendency sometimes to offer too many opinions. i think right now, the media in a lot of areas -- i am not talking about you, and i'm not saying this since we're just sitting here -- tavis: i should set up -- i should shut up? >> no, i think the media tries to tell people how to think. we need the media, but i think when you have the people involved, like when you have an interview with chris brown, i think you get the true feelings. to me, that is enough of a message. i think sometimes the media, and
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not all of them, don't get me wrong, because i was a member of the media six years when i was broadcasting, but i think sometimes we are made to want to offer more out there than really there is to a particular situation. tavis: i think you are right, i am in the media now, but i think too often the people in the media talking on the air are not experts about what they're talking about. that is what kills me. everybody has an opinion, nobody has the experts. you never heard me one time offering an opinion about it because that is not my area of expertise. >> and i would not offer my opinion except they had talked about it. if they had talked about, they are bothered by it but you are absolutely right, a lot of people, and this is a very serious situation, on a lighter note you have the politicians and sports figures. everybody who offers an opinion
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now is the one who yells the loudest to gets the attention. tavis: they are still in the news because they are role models for a lot of people, the same reason mark mcgwire is in the news because he is a role model. mark mcgre became a star planning for the same team you played for. somebody said the steroids era is now basically over. i don't know what that means for roger clemens or barry bonds, but your thoughts about whether or not the steroid era is basically over? >> i think it is out in the open, let's put it that way. now, unfortunately, we're not surprised when people come forward and say things. i think when alex rodriguez came forward, he shocked a lot of people because he is a guy who was in great shape, works hard, he does all the things that will lead to have the kind of years he has had.
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mark mcgwire, he hit a lot of home runs when he was with oakland. i don't know what he was doing with oakland, but obviously he has confessed, admitted to doing certain things. i think his conversation about what he did wrong, you know, he just sort of left it. he sort of left it, i did all these things, i am sorry, but then to go on to say that he still could have hit home runs, that is something people will believe. he may have hit some home runs, but he would not have hit them as far. the other thing, when you start this questioning, he is a role model. i think we are, whether we want or not, we are role models and we have to really behave any way because people look up to us, people look to us. i think it is our responsibility to act the right way. unfortunately, i don't know what
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the right way is any more. if you look at certain athletes, they go out there and really make a spectacle of may be scoring a basket or scoring a touchdown or hitting a home run. you know, we all are not capable of doing great things in those sports. i think we should really sort of be thankful we have this ability to do it and behave that way, of course that is old-time, 69- year-old guy talking. but i think we have a responsibility. unfortunately in baseball for a long time, the steroids stuff was going on, and it seemed like the results were such that everybody sort of like it. barry bonds hit home runs, mcgwire hit the home runs, sammy sosa, and then you have guys sitting on the sidelines like hank aaron and frank robinson, willie mays, all my contemporaries, you know, i have a feeling it was robbing them
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the wrong way while that was going on. -- i have a feeling it was rubbing them the wrong way what that was going on. tavis: you have one year left on the deal with the dodgers. something you want to tell me? >> i think we are talking about an additional year after that. i said when i turned 60 that i don't think i will be going past 60. i live at that point in time. -- i lied at that point time. it is still exciting and i still have the energy and it is still fun to be around the players. and the most important thing if you're going to manage is have the players respond to what you do or say, and i cannot do without the coaching staff. they do all the work. i am there as the guy in charge, but they are the ones who put a lot of the hours in, and i cannot do it without them. right now it is still fun, and after winning two divisions and
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a row, it is exciting to get to that extent. tavis: we are happy and excited to have you here in los angeles and even more happy that you were doing the safe at home foundation. good to see you. >> thank you. tavis: that is our show for the night. i will see you back here next time on pbs. until then, good night from l.a., and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley on tavis: hi, i am tavis smiley. join me next time with grammy- winning a superstar rosanne cash. that is next time. we will see you then. >> there are so many things that walmart is looking forward to doing, like helping people live better. but mostly, we're helping build stronger communities and relationships.
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because with your help, the best is yet to come. >> nationwide insurance proudly supports "tavis smiley." tavis and nationwide, working to improve financial literacy and the economic empowerment that comes with it. >> ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪ >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] captioned by the national captioning institute
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